Telemedicine is the use of technological innovations to provide health care services when the patient and the physician are in different locations. Telemedicine enables individuals to receive virtual health care in a location where there may be a shortage of physicians. An increasing number of physicians are practicing across the states through telemedicine.
The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact that is currently being backed by eight states seeks to improve the use of technologies in the telemedicine market while reducing the problems that emanate from the shortage of physicians. The compact requires that a practicing physician must procure a license for every single state in which they practice medicine.
Although licensing in the telemedicine industry is meant to improve the overall quality of healthcare and guarantee patient safety, some feel like the move to finalize the compact by the FSMB doesn’t do enough to boost telemedicine in a meaningful way. For some, the compact imposes increased costs for physicians as they seek to comply with multiple states licensure requirements thus discouraging them. Further, some physicians are deterred from practicing in those locations where they would contribute significantly.
This will affect patients living in rural areas who will have to travel long distances and persevere through lengthy waits to be seen by a specialist. Therefore, the cost in money, time and resources when a physician is applying for licenses in each state is seen as crippling the industry and failing to boost telemedicine access. To improve quality and access to health care, some feel that a free market with fewer bureaucracies encourages more physicians to get on board.
Despite the claims, however, FSMB argues that the compact aims at reducing the barriers for those physicians seeking a multiple state licensing and will help ensure licensure portability and improve telemedicine. It is said that the compact will help reduce redundant licensing requirements by providing a central place where physicians submit basic information like their education background.